Unusual. Was the K2000 the first autonomous car?

The heroine of the American series is called KITT, an acronym for Knight Industries Two Thousand. We are there in full fiction of the eighties; we explain to you.

A presumed dead agent named Michael Long gets a new face, a new name – Michael Knight (the Knight) – a powerful car and must chase criminals at the speed of light.

For this, the production will use a well-known muscle car, the Pontiac Firebird, equipped with exceptional powers.


K2000 or KITT, the car that drives by itself. The first autonomous car in history that will be said to have been smarter than its driver … Photo Universal

Back to the Firebird

Firebird is an American sports coupe born in 1967 and produced until 2002. General Motors wanted to compete with the Mustang and used the Camaro to design the Firebird. It is the head of Pontiac, John deLorean, who will start the project.

Firebird will receive more and more powerful engines, up to the Trans-Am version, the most powerful and the most in demand. She will even become a model in her own right. It is the third generation that will interest us.

Scale models to build, miniatures, toys, everything has been imagined to transcribe on a reduced scale the passion generated by the KITT and Knight Rider series.  Photo DR

Scale models to build, miniatures, toys, everything has been imagined to transcribe on a reduced scale the passion generated by the KITT and Knight Rider series. Photo DR

KITT, a brand new model

Born in 1982, the third generation no longer has much in common with the previous two. Born well after the oil crisis, its design was completely different. Lighter and more aerodynamic, Firebird is also stiffer.

The body is streamlined after wind tunnel testing, and the headlights are retracted in the front. The engines were controlled by a built-in computer to improve performance and make the car more economical and less polluting. KITT will slip into this skin.

Futuristic atmosphere in KITT;  nothing to do with the classic dashboard of the real Firebird.  Photo DR

Futuristic atmosphere in KITT; nothing to do with the classic dashboard of the real Firebird. Photo DR

Intelligence comes to the Firebird

Under a light camouflage we find the features of Firebird Trans-Am. The front panel has been modified to incorporate the scanner, which is KITT’s eye, the interior transformed into a flycockpit with an open steering wheel; at the rear only the lights are smoked.

But KITT is blessed with an amazing performance; KITT can drive in total autonomy at 480 km / h and even up to 800 km / h, perform jumps thanks to Turbo Boost and move in silence thanks to “Silent Mode”.

In addition to talking, KITT had a kind of GPS, emergency braking and a computer that allows him to master the art of dialogue, to guess his driver’s mood and even give him advice.

23 Firebirds for production

The producers had a very hard time convincing Pontiac to use Firebird for the series; finally, it is the boss of the time, Bill Hoglund, who lets himself be convinced. Universal has managed to procure three of them that will pass through the expert hands of a designer, Michael Scheffe.

He will start by installing computers on the dashboard and turn the dashboard into a high-tech showcase. A single Trans-Am required six weeks of work for a budget of $ 18,000. For additional Firebirds, it will just be a stroke of luck.

Scale models of the car were used for stunt scenes where the production was not willing to sacrifice a real Firebird.  Photo DR

Scale models of the car were used for stunt scenes where the production was not willing to sacrifice a real Firebird. Photo DR

A lucky derailment

The same year 1982, a train with the new Firebird Trans-Am will derail; and turn new Pontiacs into unsaleable scrap metal. Universal will buy about twenty of them, which will be used for the stunts; but some scenes do not fit …

The typical steering wheel suddenly turns around. The most dangerous stunts were entrusted to miniatures created to measure from the model Camaros.

And when KITT has to drive alone, one of the examples will have a set of controls placed very low to hide the driver. After the series ended, Pontiac put accessory kits up for sale to turn his car into a KITT replica.

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